Saturday, April 28, 2012

Behavior Change - Keeping a Food and Exercise Log

It seems that the past two winters I have fallen into unhealthy eating patterns.  Summers tend to be no problem since I am not teaching, but come December with high stress levels and unruly students I find my self loading up on coffee and refined carbohydrates.  Since I can see this is a pattern, it is time to start over and work to prevent this next year!

Knowledge does not always equal behavior

Knowledge is an essential part to changing behavior.  If you are going to eat healthier you must understand what foods are good for your body.  Most of us know that eating a diet high in sugar, chemicals, fast food, refined carbohydrates, etc. is bad for our health; however, this knowledge does not always equate to positive behavior.  What we know is not necessarily how we behave.  Sometimes, there are obstacles in the way preventing us from changing the behavior or sometimes it is a lack of motivation.  Possibly it is apathy.

Motivation and Overcoming Barriers

First, one has to be motivated to change behavior and willing to make the commitment to overcome any obstacles that block success.  Understanding what barriers exist is beneficial.  For example, one of the reasons I tend to eat unhealthy is because I am stressed out and on the go during the work day.  My obstacle is time, therefore I need to plan ahead by having meals already prepared for the day in order to succeed.

If you don't succeed immediately, don't give up!  Behavior change takes time.

There is this idea called the "rule of three" in behavior change, meaning that it can take up to three times of doing something to successfully change the behavior.  I believe it may take more attempts then three because one is breaking an old habit and starting a new behavior.  Once something becomes a good habit, it is automatic.  It is difficult for some to push past this uncomfortable stage as there will be relapse.

Here's what I am doing to try to eat healthier....

Training and Food Diary

First, I am planning meals and snacks so I know exactly what I need to buy when shopping.  Next, I am holding myself accountable by keeping a food and exercise log.  I feel that eating healthy is very necessary, but exercise is one of the single most important things you can do for your body.  We as humans are built to move and nothing signals our cells to decay more then being sedentary.  I find that I have lower stress when I exercise, which was one of my obstacles above to eating healthy.  Therefore, exercise will help to alleviate stress and planning will help to alleviate the other obstacle, time.

My food and training log

Writing down food that is eaten each day helps build awareness towards patterns in your diet that are unhealthy.  Also, you become conscious of what you are consuming and putting into your body.  My log has separate pages for both daily food intake and exercise.  This has actually become fun for me to fill out and I find that I work to improve upon my exercise regime each week.  

I could use some more veggies in my diet!

Types of Foods to focus on

If you have health issues or other problems, consulting with a nutritionist or doctor can be beneficial before starting to exercise and changing dietary habits.  When I found out I had food allergies the dietitian guided me away towards foods that could cause me harm.

There are so many diets on the market that claim quick weight loss.  Much of this is modern day quackery and a scheme to make money.  Eating healthy requires adopting a new way of life.  A quick fix diet will not  permanently change your behavior, however American spend millions believing these claims while our nation becomes fatter.  Your diet is simply what you eat on a daily basis.  From my studies as a health educator, I believe it is important to limit refined carbohydrates (white bread, cookies, many packaged snack foods) and processed or packaged food loaded with extra chemicals.  Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into each day is essential as it will add nutrients and fiber.

Taking control of what you eat by preparing your own meals much of the time instead of eating out will make the process much easier.  Eating when hungry and eating slow is important because it takes the brain about 20 minutes to know you are full.

Overall, behavior change takes time and patience.  Be kind to yourself in the process but stay motivated and results will come.  Stay excited to work towards adopting healthier habits!  

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Friday, April 20, 2012

I Love Schnooodles

Maestro the Schnoodle 

Schnoodles are part poodle and part schnauzer.  I love our Schnoodle Maestro.  Actually his full name is Maestro Sugarbaby Hecate which is inspired by our love of music, all things cute and the heavy metal genre.  It's funny that when you get to know the personality of something that all of a sudden a new nickname starts to stick.  We often call Maestro "Pigs" or "Mr. Pigs" because when he gets excited he starts grunting like a pig.  
Why I love Schnoodles....

1.  They are Soft and Cuddly 
Maestro's fur is extremely soft.  Since schnoodle's are part poodle, they have more of a hair like texture.  Shedding tends to be very minimal to non-existant with this dog.  Certain dogs seem to bother my allergies, but since Maestro is part poodle I have not experienced any difficulty.  This dog loves to snuggle and sit on laps.  

2.  They Have Unique Personalities 
Though maestro is small at fourteen pounds he is very athletic, maintaining a big dog mentality.  He is great with people and other dogs.  He has his own unique quirks and is always entertaining to watch.  My fiance swears the dog has said "I love you" and "Hello".  

3.  They are loving and loyal
Maestro will rest his little chin at the sill of our big picture window with his tiny head peeking through the curtains just waiting for us to come home.  We do not have a problem with him running out of the yard, because he hates being away from our side.  Though schnauzers can have a stubborn streak, we have found maestro to be extremely loyal to follow command while consistenly displaying his gentle character.     

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Fling

I had a week off work for spring break which was absolutely lovely.  No set in stone plans were made and I was able to actually relax for a change.  I enjoy being alone to simply exist.

The trees are flowering....

It actually felt like spring a few days over break which is sometimes unusual for an Ohio vacation in April.  Of course it tried to snow a few of the days, but seeing the sun shine through the trees in the morning was pleasant. 

Taking the time to just breath and soak in the beauty of my backyard was refreshing.  It is imperative to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the outside world and enjoy some of the simple things in life.  

I was worried about the lilac bush as it was looking ragged, but the deep purple flowers are coming in nicely.  Surprisingly, spring break in Ohio has been wonderful!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Candle Making Adventure in Hartville

Yesterday I ventured to the Hartville Marketplace  to watch Ashley, owner of the store "Candles of the Light", in a candle making demonstration.  There was a demonstration, free wax tartlet sample and best of all I got to make my own delicious smelling palm wax candle!  I have been slightly obsessed with candles for some time now so learning how to make my own is exciting!  

Candle Making Demonstration 

The Hartville Marketplace

If you live anywhere near Summit County you have to check this place out.  There are tons of vendors and it is filled with treasures. The indoor part pictured below is open all year round and the summer time calls for endless hours of shopping as the additional vendors set up shop outdoors.  

Hartville, OH

About Candle Wax

First, Ashley discussed the various types of waxes that are used in candle making:  paraffin, soy,  palm  and beeswax.  As you can see, paraffin is NOT a safe choice.  Soy and beeswax helps support the American economy.   

Paraffin - derived from petroleum 

Pros:  None

Cons:  non-renewable, not natural, produces soot, toxic, carcinogenic, not an odorless wax, not biodegradable 

The chemicals used to refine paraffin are acetone, ethylene, acrylic acid, benzene, toluene, and more

Soy Wax - made from soy beans 

Pros:  natural and renewable, biodegradable 

Cons:  produces soot, not free of toxins

Hexane may be used to refine soy wax

Palm Wax - made from palm fruit 

Pros:  natural and renewable, produces minimal soot, toxin and carcinogen free, odorless, no chemicals are used to refine, biodegradable 

Cons:  Palm wax from Indonesia and Malaysia is contributing to deforestation 

Bees wax - bee hive of honey bees 

Pros:  natural and renewable, clean burn, long lasting, gives off more light, sweet natural fragrance, emits negative ions, toxic free

Cons:  more expensive

Preparing to pour the candle.  Dye dropper to the left.   Jigger on the right to measure fragrance oil.  Small coffee straw for stirring.  

Melting the Wax

At home wax can be melted using the double boiler method.  Ashley used a electric hot plate made specifically for melting waxes.  She noted that if melting wax at home to make sure that the metal pot used will not be used for preparing food as it is difficult to clean all the wax off completely.  So make that pot for melting candles only.  Her container had a lip to pour from, which made things much easier.   

Dyes and Fragrance 

A very small amount of dye is needed to color the candle.  Adding or subtracting drops can change the color distinctively.  Ashley purchases her scents from a company who specializes in creating fragrance.  I asked her about using essential oils and she said this was safe, but make sure to read the label and do some extra research to confirm the safeness of the brand as well as the scent.  Some essential oils are safer to use in candles then others.  Of course some scents go together better then others so finding your favorites combinations may be trial and error.     

Pouring the Candle

The wicks, which can be bought at any craft supply store, were attached to the bottom of the glass jar.   I liked the clever popsicle stick like device with the hole through the middle to hold the wick in place.  Before this class, I probably would have tried to hold it with my hand like an idiot and risk burning myself!  After the wax is completely melted and in a liquid like state have the glass jar ready.  It is important to make sure the container is thick enough to deal with the heat of the candle.  Ashley heated up the glass jars slightly before pouring in the wax.  She said they can be put in the oven on a baking dish for a few minutes until warm.  

Next, the wax was poured in and directly after I added 2 small drops of dye from the extractor, and my jigger full of orange sorbet scented oil, I stirred with a small straw both clockwise and counter clock wise.  It is important to get all the dye mixed in completely.  Some dye will start to settle near the bottom and can easily be missed if not careful.  After about 2 minutes of stirring the candle was ready to set.  I perused the flea market and came back after about an hour and a half to my beautiful palm wax candle.  Palm wax forms a crystallized type texture which I find visually pleasing.  Even though my candle was set and ready to take home Ashley said to wait at least three hours before enjoying. 

Here is my finished candle!

Palm Wax Candle

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Current stay at home mama and former teacher.  I'm interested in healthy allergy free eating.  I love music and trying new products.  I am working to reduce my consumption of the unhealthy elements in the world and increase my happiness.